Remember all the hubbub when BMW announced that the new M5 would come with all-wheel drive? Remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the hardcore M fanatics who bemoaned the inevitable loss of rear-wheel drive feel and the new M5’s likely inability to break the rear wheels loose like a real M car should? Well, the new M5 is here, it has M xDrive rear-biased all-wheel drive, and for those end-of-the-drifting-world predictors, the new M5 has an xDrive off switch. So it can drift.
But you don’t have to take our word for it. Just ask the folks at Guinness World Records, who have officially confirmed that in 2017, two instructors from the BMW Performance Center in Greer, South Carolina, set not one, but two Guinness World Record titles for drifting in the new 2018 BMW M5.
The setting was the skid pad at the BMW Performance Center. Anyone who has taken Performance Center Delivery of a new BMW or attended a driving school there knows where it is and what it feels to drive on it.
BMW Performance Center driving instructor Johan Schwartz took a new M5 to the skid pad on December 11, 2017, started his drift and then finished it—232.5 miles later. Schwartz recaptured the Guinness World Record for the greatest vehicle drift in eight hours. He had set the record at the BMW Performance Center in May of 2013 in an unmodified 2013 BMW M5 with a drift of 51.278 miles. That record was broken later in 2013 and again in 2014, so now Johan has brought it back where it belongs. By the way, he beat the 2014 record by 143 miles. That is a lot of sliding.
In case you’re wondering how an M5 can drift continuously for eight straight hours on a single tank of fuel, the answer is, you can’t; even though the new M5 holds 20.1 gallons of gas. This feat required custom fuel technology and nerves rarely seen since the early days of aviation barnstorming.
Detroit Speed, an automotive fabricator in North Carolina, worked with BMW to develop a custom dry break fuel system that could refuel the M5 while it was still drifting. The dry break system only made it slightly safer because the refueler still had to lean way out of the window of a second drifting car to insert the fuel nozzle and pump the record-extending nectar into Schwartz’s M car while both vehicle drivers matched course, speed, and attitude.
Performance Center Chief Instructor Matt Mullins piloted a second M5—this one a previous-generation F10—and Detroit Speed’s Matt Butt’s performed the refueling while tethered out the right rear window. Good thing it wasn’t a coupe. The daring duo completed five refueling sessions during the eight-hour record run.
“Although we practiced the refueling several times before the Guinness Word Records title attempt, there was very little margin for error,” said Butts. “We’re excited to have played a part in Johan and BMW recapturing this record.”
“We knew going-in that if we were going to recapture the world record for longest sustained drift and set the bar as high as possible, we would need to find a way to keep the M5 going without stopping to refuel,” said Schwartz. “In the end, the refueling system worked flawlessly and the M5 performed as expected. It was a big win all around.”
You might think that after setting the new record, driving instructor Schwartz would be tired of driving in circles, but you would be wrong. Later in the day, Johan teamed with Matt Mullins to set another drifting distance record, on the same skid pad. This time the Performance Center turned on the skid pad’s integrated water system, so the next record of the day was technically water-assisted, but no less impressive.
Schwartz and Mullins teamed up to set a new record for the longest Twin Vehicle Drift—49.25 miles in one hour.
Now that the records have been confirmed by Guinness World Records, BMW will do some justifiable bragging at this week’s 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the top of every hour during the day, Schwartz and Mullins will perform a drifting demonstration in the all-new 2018 BMW M5. The Guinness World record title-setting M5 will also be on display at the BMW Experience at the Las Vegas Convention Center’s Silver Lot.
Congratulations to Johan and Matt and Matt, and all the people at the BMW Performance Center and Detroit Speed who made this dual drifting record-setting day possible. And for those BMW M fanatics who were worried about the new M5 being a real M car that can break the rear wheels free when necessary, worry no more.—Scott Blazey